Totally captivated in 2007 by the live camera feed of the Hornby Island nesting Bald Eagles in B.C., I was drawn into birding and have never looked back. Thus begins my account of what I'm fortunate enough to discover each day and perhaps capture with my camera.

Unless otherwise stated, all images were taken by and are the property of Janice Melendez

Species Counts:

2014 Final Year List: 255; 2015 Year List a/o June 5, 2015: 235; Life List: 327

Friday, September 23, 2011

Moose Encounters of the OMG Kind

A day trip to Algonquin with Ann on Thursday, September 15th will stay in my mind forever for various reasons, beginning with this beautiful early morning view of Little Silver Lake as we left the Kawarthas for Algonquin:

We arrived at the park in good time, fuelled by lots of caffeine:

Our first stop was along Arowhon Road, and the poster bird for the park put in its first appearance for us that day, those feisty Gray Jays:

The rugged scenery was breath-taking along the trail:

Birds were somewhat scarce, though, with lots of noisy blue Jays and Northern Flickers in the area, but a tail-pumpin' Palm Warbler was also seen along the way...

But not to worry, our target critter for this trip was...

During our miserable wintry OFO trip back in April, we had failed to see any Moose along the highway, so we were determined to see one (only one, please, that's all we asked for!!) on this trip. The signs of their presence was everywhere, though, as fresh prints were on the trail... was fresh poop:

Ann attempts to hide her tears of disappointment that we've not yet seen one:

But our luck quickly changed as she spotted a Moose on the far side of a marsh as we made our way back along the trail! At precisely 12:16 p.m., this young male bull silently grazed at the water's edge, what a magnificent creature!

And off he goes into the woods, two minutes later at 12:18 p.m.:

Ann and I were thrilled beyond words, we both thanked the Moose gods for smiling down upon us that day, whoohooo!!! The timepiece gods momentarily smiled down on me as well, but sadly only for a brief moment :-(

We made our way back to the main highway looking for any other critters along the way, including this swimming Beaver:

But it was the landscape views in the park that we enjoyed the most after the Moose sighting, as the crisp, clean air and blue skies dominated the day: 

But we also had obligations back at the cottage, so on a whim we decided to go back to the marsh where the moose had been seen for one last possible look for him. After all, it was late-afternoon, with not too many other people around, and also a good feeding time for them, so off we went.

I had secretly timed the walk from the parking lot back to the marsh, so knew it would take me less than seven minutes to arrive there. Ann wanted to remain behind at the parking lot to play with the Gray Jays some more, so it was decided that I would head off to the marsh solo. But don't think we were total dummies  as we were knowledgeable and wise, outdoorsy types, I armed myself and Ann with those new geeky walkie talkies from Costco. That way, I could radio Ann to come join me if the Moose was still around am I smart or what, huh??? I scare myself sometimes.   

Here's what happened next:

4:09 p.m.: I leave for the marsh, with an ETA of 4:16 p.m. latest. Do a walkie talkie practice run with Ann, and all's good on that count.

4:10 p.m.: I'm flying along the trail on my mission to get to that marsh, and anyone who knows me well knows that I'm a speed demon when I walk on my own...

4:11 p.m.: I do a time check, and yup, am actually ahead of schedule to arrive at the marsh, probably only another four minutes to go as I'm making such good time. Then as I look up from my watch, ahead of me on the left hand side of the trail I see THIS:

4:11 p.m.: it's entirely possible that at this time, a few OMG's, along with few other  totally inappropriate words choice words came out of my mouth. What the heck, he was supposed to be in the marsh, not right on the TRAIL. 

4:12 p.m.: My photographer instinct to "get-the-shot-before- it-disappears" dwindled (although my shaking did not). Common sense finally prevailed and  I radio'd Ann back at the parking lot, telling her in a frantic whisper that "the #$^& moose was right on the trail."

4:13 p.m.: Still NO ANSWER from Ann. I'm gonna die alone. But at least when they recover my camera card, they'll know that I was trying different camera settings to get the best shot!

4:14 p.m.: I finally see Ann coming towards me, scurrying along the trail, phew! She arrives and I feel better already.

4:16 p.m.: (the time I was supposed to have arrived at the marsh!) We both photograph this young male Moose as he continues to calmly graze and wander out of sight off the path, but then he wanders back out onto it, always just a smidge closer to us. We're also doing the same, moving in a bit closer as he really didn't seem particularly concerned about us.

4:17 p.m.: Our little cream puff checks us out. I had no idea how shaken up I was at the time LIAR, you know exactly how scared you were!!!     until editing my photos, only to find that not one of them was even close to straight, my heart was racing and the adrenaline was pumping!

4:18 p.m.: Closer and closer we all get to one another....

4:19 p.m.: To our horror delight, we realize that there are, in fact, TWO young bulls on the trail, but if you double-click on these next two photos, the second one can be seen through the leaves on the right hand side of the first one, but at the time that I took these photos, I hadn't even seen him yet!!

4:19 p.m., a few seconds later: Both are revealed, OMG OMG OMG:

 4:22 p.m.: They now both continue to meander back and forth, in and out of the bushes on both sides of the trail, getting closer and closer to us. But now they're messing with us, as only one is visible- huh. We wonder where the other one is....

4:23 p.m.: Suddenly both have come back out to the middle of the trail, almost as if they've gone off in the bushes to consult with each other...

4:24 p.m.: We have no photographic proof of what happened next, but suffice it to say that we saw both of these magnificent beasts (whose shoulder height runs at about seven feet) slowly turn to face us head on, and begin to break into a TROT straight at us.

Ann and I both learned about the "fight or flee" instinct. Opting for the latter while screaming "we're gonna die", "start the car, start the car!!", we indeed made it safely back to the car, only to look back to see these two bulls chuckling away to themselves, but they were also apparently disappointed that their ruse to see human scat on the trail failed. 

4:41 p.m.: My last view of one of them. Yeah, I know, I know, we were idiots to go back even for a moment, but they continued to graze along the trail.

This was one of the most exhilarating thirty minutes ever in my life that I'll never forget, and even now as I relive it again while writing this post and reviewing the pictures, my heart still races like mad. These sightings that day are even more special to me now as I lived to tell the tale  Ann and I didn't have any more Moose encounters in the park.

Thank goodness, I say, as I really don't think we could have handled it! until the next time, that is


Lee said...

"Ann and I both learned about the "fight or flee" instinct. Opting for the latter while screaming "we're gonna die", "start the car, start the car!!", we indeed made it safely back to the car, only to look back to see these two bulls chuckling away to themselves, but they were also apparently disappointed that their ruse to see human scat on the trail failed. "

Bwahahahaha! I'm laughing so hard I've had a coughing fit! I knew it would be a doozie and I can see it all so clearly now. I hope you'll let Murray know where the moose and the almost human scat was so we can see it on his tour next weekend!

Jen said...

Oh man I am so glad to have come across your blog in time for this moose post! You're a great story-teller and the photos are awesome. I remember ending up way too close to a black bear once and I must have been shaking so hard because all my photos were a blur! I look forward to more good stories to come!

Angie in TO said...

LOL!! You are one helluva story teller, that was impressive, enjoyed it and the pics immensely. Great meeting you. :)

janice.melendez said...

Thanks for the feedback, everyone, I had so much fun working on this posting, but I still shake when I reflect back on the Moose encounters!! ;-)